Pacers thrash Raptors as Toronto finishes second-worst season at home in franchise history

Fan appreciation night was a bust

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Mercifully, the Toronto Raptors won’t play in front of the team’s loyal fans again until next Fall.

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The second-worst home season in franchise history ended on Tuesday night with a 140-122 loss against Pascal Siakam and the Indiana Pacers.

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The Raptors, riding high off a two-game winning streak that had followed 15 losses in a row, actually started well, leading big early and by 10 after a quarter, before the Pacers took control.

Star guard Tyrese Haliburton had 30 points and five assists, Siakam scored a relatively quiet 16, Myles Turner added the same, while. Aurora ON’s Andrew Nembhard added eight points and six assists. Obi Toppin added 23 on 10-for-14 shooting, including 16 in the fourth quarter.

RJ Barrett led Toronto with 23 points, fellow Canadian Kelly Olynyk added 22, Bruce Brown — part of the Siakam trade — scored 16 off the bench, and Javon Freeman-Liberty scored a career best 20, including 14 in the first quarter.

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The Raptors traded Siakam, one of the best players in franchise history, in January. After losing the first three games with Siakam in the lineup, the Pacers have gone 22-14 to reach 46 wins for the first time in five seasons.

Indiana’s 33-12 run to end the second quarter turned the game ad then the Pacers kept up the pressure on the Raptors into the third, putting it away.

Toronto went 14-27 at Scotiabank Arena in 2023-24, the team’s fewest wins at home in a full 82-game season since 1997-98’s unfathomable 9-32 mark (the 2011-12 Raptors went 13-20 in Toronto in a lockout-shortened season). Which is why this corner asked head coach Darko Rajakovic before the game if he had a message to those who stuck it out with the team through a trying campaign and who the franchise hopes hangs around through a retool around Scottie Barnes that hopefully will be completed far quicker than the Eglinton LRT.

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“We have the best fans in the league. The amount of support and love we receive night in and night out is unmatched and we played against several teams in this league that don’t have a great record and the stands are half empty and there’s not a lot of support (there) that we feel every single night that we (do) here, and that means a lot to all of us,” Rajakovic said.

“It’s been a difficult season with injuries, trades with a lot of changes. I know one thing that everybody in the organization is working really, really hard to turn this around. They’re all excited by the summer and the opportunities that we have ahead of us and we’re really focussing on us getting better and you know, winning much more games in the future.

“We are at the start of a new process. It takes some time. I appreciate the love and support that we’re getting from the fans, and we promise we’re gonna be better and we’re going to get this right.”

The Raptors again played without Barnes and starting centre Jakob Poeltl, who will not return for the final week of the season. Point guard Immanuel Quickley was rested for the game and rookie Gradey Dick missed it due to a groin issue. Rajakovic said Dick was day-to-day.

Toronto plays at Brooklyn on Wednesday, before wrapping the year with a pair at Miami on Friday and Sunday.

@WolstatSun

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